Revise draft rules framed under juvenile justice act: HC

Chennai (PTI): Alarmed over the increase in the number of crimes involving children in Tamil Nadu and the lack of comprehensive rules to safeguard their interests compared to adult offenders, the Madras High Court has directed the state government to revise the draft rules framed under Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act.
A Division Bench, comprising Justices P K Misra and K Chandru, gave the direction on three different petitions filed by social activists and Self Help Groups.
While the first petition sought legal action on the perpetrators of violence against the children, who were produced before the Child Welfare Committee, the second sought penal action against police officers, responsible for detaining a juvenile in the police station.
The third sought a direction to a Judicial Magistrate to transfer four juveniles, remanded to judicial custody and to be kept in the Central Prison, to the Juvenile Justice Board.
“Though the three writ petitions arose in three different contexts, our focus is on the need to frame proper rules under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 as amended by the Central Act 33 of 2006,”the Bench said.
One of the petitioners presented the case of a 13-year-old girl, whose father sexually harassed her and forced her to watch pornographic pictures at an internet parlour for over seven years. The petitioner brought to the Court’s notice, certain lacunae in the existing laws pertaining to juvenile justice.
The petitioner submitted that when a representation was made on behalf of the girl, the Child Welfare Committee, which rescued her, had stated that it can permit representation by legal counsel only to prisoners and not to children in need of care and protection. It also does not encourage lawyers meeting children kept under their custody.
It was also submitted that the rules relating to ascertainment of age and assistance of a lawyer for juveniles were inadequate and advocates must be allowed to participate in enquiry proceedings before the Child Welfare Committee.
Counsels for the petitioners had also put forward a set of suggestions to be incorporated into the draft rules, framed by a Committee,constituted by the Court through an earlier order.
They also suggested that police and other investigative bodies be made to accord highest priority for the expeditious processing of cases against juveniles and ensure the shortest possible duration of detention during the trial period.
The suggestion also included setting up of a well equipped library with multilingual reading material and inclusion of remedial physical therapy like yoga and meditation at observation homes for juveniles.
The counsels also suggested providing adequate counseling support to family members of the juveniles in reforming the children who have come into conflict with the law and to prevent repeat offences committed by them.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
www.hindu.com

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